1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Refurbing a pumper....what should we know?

    We are planning a possible refurb of our current front line pumper. What we intend is a complete rear body replacement. Perhaps a 4 door cab addition. Of course the pump would be gone through with all valves either rebuilt or replaced. The drive train would be gone through also.

    What else should we consider? If you have refurbed what lessons did you learn? What would you do different?

    The main reasons for planning a refurb is economics. We feel the Board will not foot the bill for a new rig, although we intend to try to convince them. This is plan B, we would rather refurb our current Mack CF than purchase another unknown history used pumper.

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Our department has refurbished several engines and purchased a "glider" from E-one for another. While initially the cost may appear less, you still have an older technology vehicle. In recent years technology has moved at a faster pace than in the past.

    I have seen the idea of keeping an engine an extra 5 or 10 years due to the rehab. I would rather see the engine sold at 15-17 years with no rehab, rather than rehabing and keeping for 22-25 years.

    The quality of metal and paint just seems to not be there in today's apparatus. Even new apparatus is corroding after only a few years. A rehab job may not last as long as you intend.

    In conclusion, I would suggest doing the math and comparing the rehab cost and maintenance costs to the cost of a new apparatus.

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I understand the thought process of which you speak. But the reality is I don't believe my board will foot a $200,000 plus new truck. The chassis we are working off from is mechanically sound. The body and wiring are my main concerns, although everything else as needed would be serviced.

    Plain and simple, I may get 100K from them but not 200K. So what other option do I have? If I buy used again, what is the advantage over refurbing what I already have?

  4. #4
    Captain Hickman
    Firehouse.com Guest


    If you are thinking about adding a 4 door cab to this rig, you had better plan on a major project. Adding extra length to the frame to handle the extra cab length, will cause weight differences on the axles. Will the rig handle the extra weight. Know what your rigs axles can handle. Even if you add extra compartments on the rear. What effect will it have on the GVW of the apparatus. If you end up with a new chassis, make sure the gear ratios in the transmission and pump match. You could end up over driving or under driving the pump and there goes the pump capacity. If you do change you chassis, also watch the pump mounting. On some older pumps the pump drop, distance from the impeller shaft to the drive shaft, maybe different. This difference could affect the angle of the driveshaft if it's a mid-ship mounted pump. If it's a Mack, you most likely may have a Waterous pump. Check with the pump manufacture to see what will be needed to meet the pump requirements, if you do change the chassis. As far as a rear body replacement, just watch the weight. More weight on your chassis may not only effect the handling, but Braking ability also.

    Good luck on the rehab.

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    If it's a CF, you probably can go four door without having to stretch the truck, but you will pick up some weight...

    Which helps justify pulling out the old tank and putting in a Poly tank Even on a 500 gallon tank, you'll probably save 500-750 pounds (just guessing -- the builders could tell you for sure) It would be a shame to rebuild the truck and 3 years from now have the tank rust out!

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Are you going to spend $100,000 on a rig that is only worth $25,000? During the late 80's, our company did a refurb on a C95 Mack which proved to be a mistake. Yes, we did get another 9 or 10 years out of the rig but we encountered problems with obsolete chassis parts during that period. We could not get parts for our power steering pump and could not find window track and gear parts for the cab door windows to name a few. We had an old rig with newer compartments, a rebuilt pump and new paint. The money would have been better spent on payments for a new or newer rig.

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Refurbing can be an excellent way to go providing you get the right company to do the work. I would also keep an eye on the cost of the refurb. If you spend 100,000 plus now on a refurb, what makes you think the board will be anymore willing in 5 or 10 years to spend the money for a new one. Especially when you consider what a new engine will cost in 5 to 10 years. Good luck with the board hopefully you can convince them to do the right thing now.

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Refurb is a good way to go provided the company doing it has a "solid" reputation and will stand behind the work.

    I would however exlpore all funding options to attempt to obtain a new rig. Some states offer matching grants and low intrest loans for fire apparatus. Lease/Purchase programs have also become very popular in the past years.

    Also... if your not looking for a lot of bells and whistles, just a good basic truck. Look for demo units or "stock built" units, they tend to be much cheaper and offer the basics.

    Good luck in whichever route you take

  9. #9
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest


    First off, my station lives by refurbs...we don't have a piece of apparatus less than 19 years old. I'm all for buying new, if you have the money. If you don't, then why not stretch as much life as possible out of anything you can (within reason, of course).

    In general, when you refurb you have to be ready to accept the fact that if you take that 15 or 20 year old piece and stretch it another 15 or 20, it won't be worth much at the end. On the other hand, what you save by doing the refurb may more than pay off compared to the up front and interest cost of buying new. If you time horizon on a new piece at $300K is 15 or 20 years, and you can stretch the one you have another 12-15 at $100K, then aren't you better off stretching the one you have? Besides, engines are a dime a dozen in the aftermarket these days...what do you really expect to get for it if you trade it or sell it today?

    More specifically, we did everything you're talking about except the cab enclosure back in 1988 to a 1972 CF600 series Mack (Pierce did the refurb). It still works just fine and we're perfectly happy with it after 27 total years, and it'll probably be in service when it's 37 as long as nobody wrecks it.

    The big issues in refurbs are the same as those for buying new...you need a reputable manufacturer to do it, you need performance-based specs to ensure that you get what you want/need, and you need to treat it as if you're in for the long term (not just as a stop-gap measure).

    As far as the "new technology" angle, ask youself this...do you need more capacity, different configuration, or something else that you can't do with or to this rig? If yes, look for an affordable way to buy new. If no, maybe a refurb will do just fine.

    Again, if you have a need for something new, buy something new. If you have the money for something new, buy something new. If your choice is refurb or buy used, I'd refurb rather than risk picking up somebody else's problems.

    Whichever way you go, best of luck.

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I appreciate everyone's input so far, please keep it coming.

    I would love to purchase new, believe me I would, but reality is a cruel thing. And my village probably will not go for the cost of a new engine. I have planted the seed of the need to do something and laid out options. To be honest I would prefer refurbing to buying used....simply because I wouldn't really know what I was getting.

    This Mack just was pump tested and passed with flying colors. The engine and transmission are good. I absolutley would replace the tank and go poly. As far as wants and needs.....1) More compartments, total body replacement 2) different hose bed arrangement, 3)Prepiped foam, 4) Improved warning lights 5) Improved electrical system, larger alternator, 6) Enclosed cab, 7) overhaul the suspension and steering as needed 8) Pump and valve maintenance as needed

    I intend to push for new. Which would more than likely be on a commercial chassis for cost. But I am a realist at the same time.

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Refurbishing a pumper that is less than 15 years old can save your department money and also extend the life of your current apparatus. Using a CF Mack (which is probally the most refurbished apparatus of all) is not a bad idea if you do all the homework before you start. Here are some things you need to consider.
    1. How old is the current apparatus and how many years are you expecting to get out of it by doing a refurb?
    2. Can the current chassis handle what your planning for this refurb without major modification? (axles/suspension, frame, drive line, ect.)
    3. What kind of condition are the major components in? (pump, engine, trans., frame, axles/susp.)
    4. Is this cost effective?
    5. Can this apparatus be refurbished into what we want as a finished product?
    Many refurbs that went bad were because departments tried to do the impossible or didn't take the time to really look into/consider the whole process. My vol. dept refurbed our 1982 CF Mack twice. 1 minor and 1 major. We now have a 4 door cab and NFPA compliance. Our rig was bought new and is still in service today. Our drive train and pump were both in great shape and our truck was in A1 mechanical condition. We wanted to replace the body with a new aluminum one but were shot down by our municipal board so we kept the original body. Another thing to keep in mine is don't try to make this piece something that is already is not. Even though this can be done it can get quite expensive. Here are some things to ask the prospective companies you are considering for this job.
    1. What kind of experience do they have refurbishing CF Macks. (I recommend using a company with previous Mack experience.)
    2. Can they provide you with a list of departments that they have done this work for in the past. (check them out/this is a must for any kind of work)
    3. Can they guaruntee a completion date in the refurb contract. (some will take alot longer than others)
    4. Can they can provide you a loner pumper if you need one while your apparatus is gone. (This is also something that some refurbishing companies do.)
    One other thing you may want to consider since you are going to replace the body is looking at some of the smaller apparatus builders who also do refurbishing work.
    Some only have a 4 month turn around on new apparatus so a refurb shouldn't take to much longer. I would be gald to provide you with a list of several companies here in PA that do this kind of work. Feel free to contact me for further info. Thanks FGN

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